A lot of people have this grossly over-romanticized vision of travel writing, where you get paid to jet around the world. Given the number of actual living, breathing travel writers screaming “That’s not what my life is like!” I can’t believe that myth persists.
I carry no expectations of glamour and certainly not of free rides. But I do know I’ll still have a little bit of income while I travel thanks to a few means of earning money on the road.
I currently freelance for a huge range of travel-oriented clients, including print magazines, websites, and blogs, and have every intention of continuing that overseas. I currently spend just a few hours a week on freelance writing and make an extra $300 a month. If I were to work out a one-day-on, one-day-off schedule for writing, or a schedule where I spend just a couple hours of each day writing, I could easily bump that income up to $800 or $900 a month.
I don’t sell my photography as often as I sell my writing, but every once in a while I’ll get a request for original images to go with an article or itinerary. I hate to do that basic white girl thing where I call myself a photographer by virtue of owning a camera and beg my friends to pay for prints of my work. But really I need to stop second guessing myself on the photography front. I have successfully sold my work on multiple occasions and even won awards for my photography. So, while it probably won’t be an area of focus, I will at some point establish a way to sell prints of my photography on this site.
Monetizing my website
I may also consider monetizing this blog in other ways, but I’m fully aware that making money off a blog, especially in the super competitive field of travel blogs, takes a huge amount of time and effort. It also requires things like sponsored content and affiliate marketing, which I have mixed feelings about. While I wouldn’t ever agree to promote a service or product I didn’t truly support, I’m still not sure it’s right for me to suggest other travelers shell out their hard earned dough when I didn’t. Maybe I’ll get over those qualms, find the right balance, and start offering those services to advertisers to further beef up my travel income. Or maybe I’ll decide that creating e-books or offering consulting services is a better fit.
Frustrating as my current job is, there’s a lot of it that could be managed remotely, so if I do stay on board for the next year and a half, I may be able to negotiate a part-time remote contract. Even if it’s as simple as being available via email to answer questions. Other tasks that rely only on an internet connection: creating e-newsletters, social media marketing, updating our website… If my current employer isn’t interested in remote consulting, other companies may be.
Finding an overseas job
While I don’t want to tie myself to a full-time job during my initial RTW, if I fall in love with long-term travel during this year on the road, I may decide to try working for a tour operator or a cruise ship. It could be a great way to stay overseas and still earn a little income. Another option I’m considering for the distant future is taking advantage of Australia or New Zealand’s working holiday visa. Those are both countries that I’m not visiting in my first year because of the expense, but once I’m ready to settle down a little more, staying and working in Australia for the long term would offset those costs considerably.
And these are just big picture, long term means of earning money while traveling. I know of many other people finding little odd jobs on the road, like cutting hair, teaching dance, or wandering around town editing restaurant menus.
Some people may balk at the idea of patching together just enough money to get by, but having graduated into a recession, I already have to do that. I might as well find a way to have a patchwork income and a life I love.